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SanDisk, Toshiba aim to reclaim NAND process lead

Posted: 04 Mar 2010  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NAND process lead  NAND flash  memory market 

The SanDisk-Toshiba duo is looking to take back the process technology lead in NAND—again.

The team of SanDisk Corp. and Toshiba Corp. is set to roll out a 24nm NAND flash part in 2H 10, thereby regaining the lead from the duo of Intel Corp. and Micron Technology Inc., according to an analyst. SanDisk and Toshiba have a joint manufacturing venture in NAND in Japan.

In January, Intel and Micron regained the process technology lead in NAND flash, by rolling out the first in a family of 25nm devices.

SanDisk-Toshiba will have both 2bit-per-cell and 3bit-per-cell, 24nm part, according to SanDisk's roadmap. In contrast, the Intel-Micron team is scaling with more traditional 2bit-per-cell devices.

"We expect SanDisk to be (about) 70 percent ramped on 32nm exiting '10, with 24nm ramp starting in late 2H," said Dunham Winoto, an analyst with Avian Securities LLC (Boston), in a report based on SanDisk's analyst meeting late last week. "By comparison, Micron is 100 percent on 34nm and to start ramping 25nm in Q2, at least three-to-four quarters ahead on shrinks but behind on the ramp on 3bits."

Indeed, SanDisk-Toshiba and Intel-Micron have different views about the NAND market. At the event, "SanDisk shared its process node roadmap, reiterating its belief that x3 (3bit-per-cell) combined with node shrink as the most optimal way to reduce unit cost. This is in contrast with Micron's strategy of relying more on shrinks and less on x3 (3bit-per-cell)," Winoto said.

According to the analyst, there are two reasons for the discrepancies: 1) Micron likely has greater concentration of OEMs using embedded NAND; and 2) SanDisk owns more IP for 3bit-per-cell.

Also at the event, SanDisk raised its capital spending for 2010 to $700 to 900 million, up from $370 million in 2009, the analyst said. This is below the $1.6 billion average capital spending figures from 2006 to 2008, it was noted.


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